Like A River Flows
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
I spent last weekend at the Niagara Falls in Buffalo, NY. I was immediately awestruck at the natural beauty and captivating majesty of the waterfalls. The thunderous sounds of a tumultuous cascade, the cloudy mists of water droplets rising effortlessly in the air, the invigorating smell of the crisp, fresh air, the bright hues of greens, blues, and white, combined with the swelling bursts of gleeful delight, gifted me one of the most memorable and eventful birthday presents I have ever had.
As soon as I got to the Falls, all my senses were immediately bombarded by the sheer power and grandeur of the scene. Everyone was quickly making their way to one of the many observation decks on site - eager to catch a glimpse of one of the most renowned natural wonders of the world. Every gender, race, ethnicity, and age, equally, was swept up in the entrancing magnetism that pulsed through the air. But the most powerful scene of all to me, were the faces I saw. Each face reflected happiness, awe, peace, joy, serenity, and wonderment. Everyone was fully present in the moment - taking it all in. It was as if all care, worry, and anxiety were forgotten, if just for that one moment. It dawned on me, right there and then, that the Falls, in fact nature, was teaching every one of us (and me) very important life lessons. And I was ready to pay attention.
Be Fully Present
Sometimes I find myself so caught up worrying about future successes that I miss today's small achievements. That means that I also miss the opportunities that are right in front of me. I could have visited the Falls and be so absent-minded that I would have missed out on the experience of a lifetime. Being present means engaging all of one's senses in what is happening in that moment. Time is of little importance. Cultivating a sense of gratitude for what I do have, keeps me focused on what and who really matters to me. The Falls was worth it simply because I savored every moment. I chose to be fully present.
Planning for the future is a good thing. No one wants to walk aimlessly through life living a circumstantial life. One must be intentional. The Niagara River's intention, however, is not to please its visitors. Their oohs and aahs mean absolutely nothing to the Falls. Simply put, the River's intention is to flow to from the Great Lakes to Lake Ontario and ultimately into the Atlantic Ocean. Intention, therefore, demands that I am in control of my decisions, focused on my actions, and aware of my state of being each day. I do it just for me - no one else. I keep moving with a singular mission in mind. That mission is simply to live a life of purpose.
Just Begin Somewhere
While I reveled in the breathtaking scenery of the foamy, cascading water plunging over the Falls, I was reminded that rivers begin somewhere. The Niagara river begins in the upper Great Lakes (Michigan, Superior, Huron, and Erie), makes its way to Lake Ontario, and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean There would be no Niagara Falls if the water from the Great Lakes dried up or was all diverted elsewhere. In life, sometimes, one fails to experience his/her personal 'Niagara Falls' moments because they never tried - they never began. Fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, procrastination, and life-situations are empowered - taking precedence over determination, optimism, intention, sheer grit, and even hope. Sometimes, one simple try is all it takes to set great things in motion. If four lakes could conspire to materialize the Niagara Falls, who knows what opportunities are waiting to conspire with you. Your Niagara Falls awaits. Just begin somewhere.
The River never stops for a breather. It never stops to chat with strangers or reminisce with friends. It has no idle time. In fact, it sweeps away everything that stands in its way as it flows downstream. Nothing but external forces can influence its flow. The Niagara River's volume is impacted by external forces such as changes in water volume in the Great Lakes and by diversion for the generation of power. But even then, it is still the Niagara River. Nothing diminishes its value or cancels its mission. It simply flows. There are distractions all around. But do not be distracted from your mission. External forces may slow your movement towards your goal but nothing diminishes your value or can stall your mission unless you choose to let it. Keep moving - whether you flow or not. It does not matter. Every step is one step closer to your goal(s). That is true success.